South Dakota JAG students headed to Pierre for ‘Capitol Conversations’

The South Dakota Capitol building in Pierre.
The South Dakota Capitol building in Pierre.(Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)
Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 4:47 PM CST
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PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Student leaders from South Dakota schools — including all four Sioux Falls public high schools — are participating in a project that offers an in-person glimpse of local politics.

Other schools involved include Andes Central High School, Bennett County High School, Lyman High School, Todd County High School, and Wagner High School.

The students will gather in Pierre on Feb. 14 to meet with legislators and other government officials as part of a larger statewide project called “Capitol Conversations,” according to the Department of Education.

The students are part of the Jobs for America’s Graduates-South Dakota (JAG-SD) program, which is a leadership development and career exploration program for middle and high school students.

“During the Feb. 14 event, students will attend committee meetings, visit the House and Senate floors, learn about the judicial branch, gain an understanding of lobbying, and tour the Capitol.”

“Educational research supports the idea that students better remember information learned through hands-on activities,” said JAG-SD State Director Beth Schneider. “Our efforts should also focus on helping students understand their roles as informed citizens, as well as the responsibilities of leadership. That’s why JAG-SD developed ‘Capitol Conversations.’”

JAG has more than 300 student members in South Dakota and 68,000 members nationally. To learn more about starting a JAG program, individuals can contact JAG-SD State Director Beth Schneider.

Previous student experiences

As part of “Capitol Conversations,” JAG-SD students first met during the October 2022 Leadership Development Conference, where they learned about leadership and what it means to represent their peers.

Throughout the fall, the “Capitol Conversations” project brought local JAG-SD Career Associations together with a variety of government leaders from their communities. The Career Association is the extracurricular component of JAG.

The culminating piece of “Capitol Conversations” involves students reconnecting with government leaders from their communities after the legislative session to understand the impact of bills that were brought forward and laws that were passed.

“A delegation of South Dakota students was on hand to witness the historic event at nationals in May, which inspired our students to advocate for having their own state officers in South Dakota,” said Schneider. “This demonstrates the power of developing young leaders.”